People manning street booths calling on Hongkongers to remember victims of the 1989 Tiananmen Massacre were harassed by passers-by and approached by police officers over the weekend, as the authorities warned the public against attending an annual candlelight vigil to commemorate its 32nd anniversary this Friday.

A booth run by members of the Hong Kong Alliance in Support of Patriotic Democratic Movements of China outside Kwai Chung Plaza was approached by a group of police officers on Saturday, the force told HKFP.

One 26-year-old female was fined for violating social distancing regulations. An officer said organisers had violated the four-person social gatherings restrictions as the booth was “surrounded by people,” Apple Daily reported.

The Tiananmen massacre occurred on June 4, 1989 ending months of student-led demonstrations in China. It is estimated that hundreds, perhaps thousands, of people died when the People’s Liberation Army was deployed to crack down on protesters in Beijing.

Photo: League of Social Democrats via Facebook.

Activists at the booth were handing out pamphlets and electronic candles to passers-by to remember the protesters who had lost their lives.

Separately, another street booth commemorating the massacre run by the League of Social Democrats in Causeway Bay over the weekend was “attacked” by people who held “opposing political views,” the group wrote on its Facebook page. Officers arrived at the scene but did not make any arrests.

Photo: League of Social Democrats via Facebook.

The incidents come after authorities banned the annual candlelight vigil held at Victoria Park for the second year in a row on Friday, citing Covid-19 pandemic concerns.

Hong Kong’s Covid-19 infections remain very low, with a couple of cases reported daily for the past two weeks.

‘Light a candle’

Meanwhile, the June 4th museum in Mong Kok commemorating the massacre and operated by the Alliance re-opened on Sunday afternoon with a photography exhibition called “the 1989 Democracy Movement and Hong Kong.”

The Alliance said they would not appear at Victoria Park on Friday, but called on Hongkongers not to forget the victims of the massacre on its 32nd anniversary.

Photo: June 4 Museum via Facebook.

“We hope Hongkongers will use their own wisdom to commemorate June 4 in a way that is lawful… to continue the belief that we have held onto for all these years” said one Alliance member on the museum’s re-opening.

Following Saturday’s announcement the vigil will not go ahead, Vice-chair of the Alliance Chow Hang-tung said she will still light a candle in a personal capacity on 8pm on Friday to remember the victims.

“The Alliance continues to believe that no matter how much the regime engages in repression, the candlelight will never disappear as long as people remember,” a statement read.

Photo: Tam Ming Keung/United Social Press.

The annual vigil held at Victoria Park was considered by commentators as a symbol of freedoms enjoyed in Hong Kong as opposed to mainland China, where all information on the massacre is tightly censored and scrubbed from its internet.

The vigil was banned for the first time in three decades last year, with authorities also citing public health concerns. Thousands showed up anyway.

This year’s ban comes amid growing concerns from rights groups and democrats authorities are moving to erase the memory of the massacre in Hong Kong, after Beijing imposed a sweeping national security last June that critics say was designed to quell political dissent.

Rhoda Kwan

Rhoda Kwan is HKFP's Assistant Editor. She has previously written for TimeOut Hong Kong and worked at Meanjin, a literary journal. She holds a double bachelor’s degree in Law and Literature from the University of Hong Kong.